ModelKing/MPC 1/25 Wild Bill Shrewsberry's L.A. Dart

KIT #: 21877P
PRICE: AUD $60-70.00
DECALS: One option
REVIEWER: Graham Mison
NOTES: Original MPC mold, Private Production Limited release by Model King with new decals.


In Drag Racing circles (excuse the pun please) wheel-standers seem to hold a certain fascination. Since Bill ‘Maverick’ Golden’s Little Red Wagon held its front wheels off the strip for a full ¼ mile in 1965 there have been many built, amongst the most notable being the Hurst Hemi Under Glass and ‘Wild’ Bill Shrewsberry’s LA Dart. For those not aware of what the’re about a wheel-stander is an exhibition type drag car run for the wow factor. These are mostly a sedan body with a hugely powerful V8 installed in the boot (sorry – trunk) designed to run the ¼ mile with their front wheels in the air. The driver steers via separate brakes to each rear wheel, in a similar fashion to a tracked vehicle. Forward vision is through a cutout in the floor. As with most drag racing these are more spectacular at night when flames from the headers and showers of sparks from spark bars add to the show.

These vehicles were in the mid ‘60s called ‘Funny Cars’ along with the first jet drag cars and the original Funny Cars as we would think of them today. Wheel-standers had their most popular era in the 1980s when large numbers allowed whole shows to be run. Amongst the zany types were Fire Engines, a Stagecoach, Kenworths and even a tank.

Bill Shrewsberry was in at the beginning of the ‘standers having helped develop the original Hurst Hemi Under Glass Plymouth Barracuda in 1965 before building his first L.A. Dart based on a Dodge body with a supercharged Chrysler Hemi which pushed the 2 wheeling car to over 100 mph. Shrewsberry used separate pedals for each of the rear brakes where as Golden and others used levers. One of his party tricks being to spin the car around at the end of the run, still with the front wheels up, and return to the start line. He also on a number of runs stood up through the vacant windshield (it seems the car was mostly, if not always, run without glass) and waved to the crowd at over 100 mph until he was pulled aside by the head of the NHRA and told to stop, no wonder they called him Wild!

In the early ‘70s Shrewsberry and his 1970 L.A. Dart were brought to Australia and ran at the now long gone Surfers Paradise International Raceway. I was just a youngster then and well remember the car and ‘Wild’ Bill so when I discovered this kit on the shelf at Sherriffs Mini Cars, a local car model specialist, I grabbed it. If MPC had had this on the shelves in OZ when the man was here it would have been a sell-out.


 Model King has had a limited run of this kit done along with a host of other drag and speedway kits from the ‘60s and ‘70s, they do sell for a premium price however but this seems to be well below what the original kits are going for on the collectors market. Some of these kits have had newly designed decals whilst others retain the originals, of course those in the original boxes are now many decades old and quite possibly unusable.

 Packaged in a very sturdy box which contains a single piece body, 1 chrome sprue, 4 white sprues, 4 vinyl tires, 2 metal axles, 2 clear and 2 red parts with a total parts count of  71. Many of the chrome parts will need stripping as with most car kits.

Flash is present on a number of parts in particular the seat and headers and there are a few sink marks as well as ejection pin and mold lines, not unexpected for a mold getting onto 4 decades old.

 Molded detail is lacking overall but standard for the time. The interior is reasonable with a full rollcage, tub with details on the sidewalls, drivers seat with molded on belts but no sign of the brake pedals for each rear wheel. The rollcage seems too thick for the scale. Instrument cluster is one of the plated parts and you’d definitely want to remove the chrome from the dial faces at the least. The engine, which accounts for 18 parts, would be enhanced greatly by wiring and plumbing and detail added to the supercharger belt, The headers are parts that will need some attention to remove flash and drill out the ends.

 The instruction sheet seems to be the original MPC with the addition of a ã 2007 to Learning Curve and Trademark notices. The only painting instructions are regarding the stripes on the body, that’s right no painting details for any of the parts so reference needs to be made to the box top, side and photos.

 Model King have provided a new decal sheet and this has the red stripes and it appears all sponsor markings, making a much easier job than the original issue. These are printed gloss and in good register including L.A.Dart in metallic gold. Each will need close cutting. No placement guide is given so reference to the box top and other pics will again be needed especially for the ones that go under the car. The decals were designed by Sean Svendsen and he has a website where you can see more of his work and get an inside view to what goes into a decal sheet and the thinking behind some of his box top designs.  Via an email Sean advised me that a separate run of the decal sheet was produced after the kits release with the metallic gold replaced by gold foil as on Shrewsberry’s actual car. Shrewsberry himself helped with getting the details on the kits sheet correct. This later sheet is available for separate sale on some Internet sites, so if your lucky enough to have an original boxing you wish to build keep that in mind.


It’s great to see this kit re-released even in limited numbers, as it came out a few years ago it’s probably getting harder to find now so if it takes your interest best grab one when you see it.


 Sean Svendsen website:

Graham Mison

April 2010

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